Interesting News (10/24/12)

Larry Flynt, Reese Rideout, and an interesting roundabout discussion of social justice – it’s all Interesting News!!


1. The New York Times recently ran a piece about Larry Flynt entitled “Pornography and Politics” that was actually quite good (October 19, 2012 here).

Beginning with “It’s tough to be bashful when you’re a pornography titan. So Larry Flynt, even at age 69, doesn’t really try..,” the article discusses myriad ways in which Mr. Flynt’s work and activism have protected free speech rights for every person in the US (and thus, the world).


Mr. Flynt knows a thing or two about freedom of speech, having won a landmark Supreme Court case in 1988 over a Hustler cartoon of the evangelist Jerry Falwell. The suit, which clarified that public figures could not recover damages for offensive parodies, had wide implications for the media…

He [stated]: “‘Saturday Night Live,’ Jon Stewart, Jay Leno, Letterman. You had better believe their attorneys are telling them, ‘You can do what you do because Larry Flynt won his case.’”

Bad. Ass.

You can read “Pornography and Politics” by Brooks Barnes in its entirety right here – enjoy!!


2. Recently, on Gawker: “Doing Gay Porn Doesn’t Make Reese Rideout Gay, But It Does Make His Wife Look Miserable” (October 18, 2012)


Reese Rideout aka Cletus Van Damm aka Nicholas Ryan aka Nick Dent… has a complicated life: He is supposedly straight but gets paid to have sex with men on film and then gets asked to talk about this to various media outlets. He and his wife, Becki, have appeared in the British Marie Claire, on The Bill Cunningham Show and, as of last night, on VH1 for a one-off special called I’m Married To A… In this case, the “A…,” is a self-identified heterosexual man who regularly ejaculates in the arms (and in the other things) of another dude.

Gay-for-pay makes for the most inherently fascinating scene studies you could ever wish for. Having sex with a man would seem to negate any claim of heterosexuality, and yet, there are plenty of guys who claim that doing all sorts of things with other people’s penises (including bottoming, which Dent does) is just a job, just something to “get over with” (as Dent says) on the way to the bank.

Taking into account a metric like the Kinsey Scale, which considers even incidental gay sex a deviation from absolute heterosexuality (meaning that Reese is at least a 1 — predominantly heterosexual, only incidentally homosexual — if not a 2 — predominantly heterosexual, but more than incidentally homosexual), it seems a little disingenuous to call a man who regularly has sex with men totally straight, regardless the reason. But ultimately that could be just a semantic argument. Sexuality is complicated, and if Dent feels he has it all figured out and can use it to make some cash, he’s doing something right.


Embedded in these two tiny paragraphs is a series of much larger and more complex issues… Perhaps I will write about them someday. For now, this bit about Reese Rideout is an interesting, albeit occasionally problematic, mince.


3. An article by John-Manuel Andriote called “Demanding ‘Tolerance’ While Being Intolerant and Selfish Won’t Achieve Equality (Or Lower Life-Saving Drug Prices)“ calls attention to a wider issue that I find fascinating: touting free expression, open-mindedness, and a generally liberal attitude about X, Y, and Z while being intolerant of things that are counter to your core values.

John-Manuel discusses specific examples he sees occurring in LGBTQ activist communities, but what really spoke to me was the more abstract and generalizable dimension described below.

…Just this week I’ve been appalled to see some friends on Facebook boasting of “de-friending” others who dared to “like” a Republican, and justifying their harsh behavior by invoking the usual rhetoric of the persecuted gay victim of Republican/evangelical/heterosexual oppression. It doesn’t seem to cross their mind that they are every bit as intolerant as they their former Facebook friends allegedly are. They don’t seem aware that their behavior is every bit as hurtful as their “oppressors.” I suspect that it doesn’t even occur to them that the tolerant society they claim to want requires dialogue, friendly disagreement and mutual respect. It’s not a one-way street where “we” get all we demand and “they” get nothing more than our self-important “friendship.” (10/17/12 here)


Regardless of the veracity of his specific example regarding LGBTQ activist communities (which isn’t included/covered in the quote above – you have to read the whole piece for that), I find John-Manuel’s basic point – that we who are asking for equality and fairness should demonstrate those same qualities toward others – to be incredibly powerful.

In many respects, I get the de-frienders – why would anyone want to associate with groups/individuals who (supposedly) hate and/or oppress you and/or the people who support them? I wouldn’t/don’t.

But there’re bigger issues here, namely the “I’m totally open-minded… just as long as you agree with me!!” dimension John-Manuel gets at in the discussion overall. The wider embedded issue – namely that social justice is about social justice for all (even if you don’t like it and even if it doesn’t like you) – he’s getting at is extremely complex, occasionally uncomfortable, and really worth considering.

Being intolerant is being intolerant, regardless of what’s specifically being intolerated. Social justice advocates freedom and authenticity, which includes the right to think and be in whatever way works for you. It’s difficult (at least, it’s difficult for me) to say that people have every right to think and say some of the hateful, problematic, and occasionally downright stupid shit that they do, but they do… Because there’s no one “correct” way of thinking or doing – there’s only what makes sense to you given your own unique subjectivity. Social justice reminds us that everyone deserves the same respect.

Definitely worth the read –> here.

(pictured: ridiculously cute, and somewhat symbolic, puppy that I wish I knew)

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Interesting News – news that’s interesting!!

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